We rely on love, security, and a strong foundation from birth. But what happens if a young one experiences traumatic events at home or elsewhere in their environment? Unfortunately, untreated childhood trauma can lead to anxiety, anger, isolation, or negative thoughts about oneself or the world. However, the good news is that it is never too late to receive the needed help and thrive in life. Therefore, let’s discuss childhood trauma and how to treat it.

What Causes Childhood Trauma?

Although a child’s brain develops into their mid 20, the most formative years are between 0 and 8 when their brain grows the fastest. It is also the foundation for learning, success, and overall well-being. Therefore, experiencing trauma during that period can stunt them in many ways.

Causes of trauma may include:

  • Accidents
  • Neglect
  • Poverty
  • Bullying
  • Natural disasters
  • War or terrorism
  • Loss of a loved one
  • Serious medical conditions
  • Separation from caregivers
  • Violence in the home or community
  • Emotional, physical, or sexual abuse
  • A parent with mental illness or substance abuse issues

In addition to primary trauma, there is secondary trauma, such as witnessing domestic violence or hearing about someone else’s traumatic experiences, especially for social workers.

The Effects of Unresolved Childhood Trauma

Not every child who experiences trauma will develop mental health issues. In other words, you can have two siblings who share the same trauma in their household yet come out completely different. For example, one sibling may overcome their circumstances while the other experiences long-term mental and physical health issues.

Let’s look at some physical and mental health effects of trauma.

Mental health effects may include:

  • OCD
  • PTSD
  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Reactive attachment disorder
  • Borderline personality disorder

Physical effects may include:

  • Panic attacks
  • Heart disease
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Unexplained anger
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Constant state of hyper-alertness

Untreated symptoms can ultimately lead to unhealthy coping skills if not effectively managed.

Unhealthy Coping Skills Caused by Trauma

Children often form unhealthy survival skills to adapt to or cope with trauma. For instance, they may attempt to control their food intake or excessively wash their hands to control what they can’t externally control. However, these unhealthy coping patterns can lead to more serious issues if left untreated.

Negative coping patterns may include:

  • Smoking
  • Aggression
  • Impulsivity
  • Substance abuse
  • Disassociating
  • Eating disorders
  • Bullying behavior
  • Avoidance behavior
  • Delinquent behavior
  • Reckless and risky behavior
  • Lacking respect for authority

Other harmful coping mechanisms can include self-injurious behavior, suicide attempts, or death by suicide. Therefore, the sooner one receives treatment, the less their symptoms will carry into adulthood.

Treatment for Children and Adults

Often, families don’t realise that treatment must include the family household for the child to benefit from therapy and maintain wellness. In other words, if a therapist only works with the child, and their mental health improves, they will typically go backward if the family isn’t receiving treatment.

Besides family therapy, a therapist might use play therapy for younger children, such as arts and crafts activities or games, as they cannot process talk therapy as adults.

Adult treatment for unresolved trauma can include individual therapy, group therapy, or psychoeducation. In addition, a therapist might suggest the client attend more than one type as an added benefit.

Treatment Methods for Adults:

A therapist will use different trauma treatment methods depending on the individual and their circumstances.

Therapeutic methods may include:

  • Psychodynamic Therapy – focuses on bringing up unconscious memories or root causes of trauma affecting one’s present behavior.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – works on managing problems by improving how one thinks and behaves.
  • Eye Movement Desensitization Movement and Reprocessing reprocessing (EMDR) reduces symptoms of PTSD by slowing down one’s over-stimulated brain to process the traumatic memories.

In addition, medication might be a consideration. Still, many other treatment methods exist than just these few examples.

Seek Support

It’s vital to know that you are not alone. Having someone who can relate to your issues and listen without judgment can help relieve your sadness or loneliness. One such place is Barty’s Adventures, where they hold special events and adventures to help men feel better about themselves by keeping active, thus improving mental health. Barty – We Are A Mental Health Initiative

Hope and healing from trauma are possible with the proper help and support. So, don’t let your past hold you back because it won’t benefit you in the present. Instead, take the reigns and create the life you deserve.

No matter what you’re going through, you deserve to be supported.

Why Not Try Online Therapy?

Hopefully, these points could give some comfort, but sometimes just reading quotes isn’t enough. Online therapy can be a great option if you or a loved one is looking for more support.

Therapy through BetterHelp.com/Barty can be more affordable than traditional therapy and allows many options to communicate with your therapist from the comfort of your home. Most importantly, remember that it is okay not to be okay, and you are no less of a human for feeling your emotions and being vulnerable.

To receive 25% off your first month, head to BetterHelp.com/Barty

Feel free to drop by if you’d like to chat and just say, ‘Hey Barty,’ in strict confidence, and you can be anonymous if you wish. Or do not hesitate to leave a question in the comments section below at any time.

Sandy Glover


Sandy is the resident mental health professional at Barty. She previously worked as a therapist, earning a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's in counselling. Sandy has transitioned to becoming a peer presenter at several mental health settings through NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness). Her passion for mental health is evident in her writing as a subject matter expert who draws from personal experience, professional expertise, and education to help eliminate stigma.

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